Coalition of Progressive Electors councillor David Cadman says a proposed downtown Vancouver casino expansion may attract international criminals.
Cadman also questioned the absence of community benefits resulting from the operations of the Las Vegas–based casino firm Paragon Development Ltd.
“We’re now dealing with international criminal elements from Asia, from South America, from the United States, from Canada, from India,” Cadman told the Straight.
False Creek neighbourhood activist Sean Bickerton echoed Cadman’s concerns about crime. “I’m concerned about bringing those influences into our downtown,” Bickerton, a former NPA council candidate, told the Straight.
However, Vancouver police spokesperson Const. Lindsey Houghton downplayed these fears. “As long as they’re [casinos are] properly regulated,” Houghton told the Straight, “as long as we have that ongoing communicative relationship with them, specifically with respect to casinos and the provincial government and the RCMP, who have regulatory oversight with respect to things like FINTRAC [the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada], then we don’t see any major issues.”
Paragon intends to move the Edgewater Casino from its Plaza of Nations location after its lease expires in 2013 to a 680,000-square-foot entertainment complex next to B.C. Place. From 45 gambling tables and 493 slot machines, the company will increase its capacity to 150 tables and 1,500 slots.
Cadman expects a staff report soon on the application by the B.C. Pavilion Corporation to rezone B.C. Place as a mixed-use site that includes two hotels, a casino, restaurants, and a theatre.
According to Vision Vancouver councillor Raymond Louie, the previous NPA–dominated council in 2008 gave away the city’s right to demand public amenities from future developers of the B.C. Place site and the rest of the False Creek North area.
“I voted against that, and so did all the Vision councillors,” Louie told the Straight. “The community-amenity contribution from that 1.4 million square feet is no longer available.”
The same council agreed to take the installation of a new retractable roof on B.C. Place as the sole public benefit for allowing development at False Creek North.
NPA councillor Suzanne Anton speculated that either Paragon or the province may offer to build a small amenity like a playground. “There’s a certain amount of give and take with every development in the city,” Anton told the Straight.